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By Collin Breaux | Twitter: @collin_breaux

The City of San Juan Capistrano will continue to fund the usual police services, look to get started on extensive roadwork for local streets, and handle municipal needs under the city budget for the upcoming fiscal year.

The City Council approved the budget for Fiscal Year 2022-23 during a meeting on Tuesday, June 7. City staff presented a draft budget during a May meeting, and subsequently incorporated minor revisions suggested by councilmembers in the final approved budget.

One of those suggestions includes funding for occasional horse-mounted police patrol services in the downtown and Los Rios Street areas at $45,000.

The overall cost for law enforcement services for the city in FY 2022-23 is approximately $11.7 million, which city staff said is a 4.1% increase from the $11.2 million estimated cost in FY 2021-22. The direct staffing level of 30 full-time Orange County Sheriff’s Department employees for the upcoming fiscal year is unchanged from the current fiscal year, according to an agenda report.

San Juan Capistrano contracts with OCSD for police services, as do other municipalities throughout Orange County.

The upcoming city budget will also provide initial funding for what the city intends to be a long-term and wide-ranging rehabilitation of local streets. The first part of the major initiative will be what’s called the Camino Capistrano Pavement Rehabilitation Project, which will involve roadwork on Camino Capistrano—a thoroughfare frequently used by drivers traveling in and through San Juan, from the Dana Point to Laguna Niguel city limits.

The total cost for work on Camino Capistrano is estimated at $10.8 million, with $2.5 million of that funded in FY 2022-23.

Estimated costs for overall street work, which will span the coming years, is more than $43 million.

The city is looking at improving streets such as Camino del Avion, San Juan Creek Road and Camino Las Ramblas in future fiscal cycles. Street conditions are said to have lapsed over time because of neglected maintenance, due to unavailable funding. Recent federal funding provided in pandemic relief is going toward the improvements.

Other projects that will be funded under the FY 2022-23 budget include new permanent supportive housing for homeless and low-income people and a City Hall complex at the current City Hall site on Paseo Adelanto at a total of $3.5 million, plus San Juan’s first-ever skatepark at a total of $4.2 million, with $760,000 being added in with the upcoming budget.

The city is expected to have a $3.6 million surplus for FY 2022-23, and it is generally perceived as being in good financial shape by city staff. The city’s favorable fiscal state was attributed to several factors, including the City Council cutting down annual expenditures in June 2020 and increased tax revenue in recent times.

“I just want to thank (City Finance Director) Ken Al-Imam, and all the staff and department heads, that work so diligently to come up with a budget that is incredible and makes us look so good,” Councilmember John Taylor said. “We really appreciate the hard work you guys put into this, and having a budget surplus is an incredible step forward for our community.”

Mayor Pro Tem Howard Hart said the upcoming fiscal cycle will be a “good year” for San Juan Capistrano with all the city projects coming up.

“It’s still phenomenal to just not have a structural deficit,” Mayor Derek Reeve said. “To add to that, a $40 million commitment to address our streets and our city, on top of that—not to mention everything else—I hope the residents can recognize how significant that accomplishment is and the hard work of staff going into making that happen.”

Collin Breaux

Collin Breaux covers San Juan Capistrano and other South Orange County news as the City Editor for The Capistrano Dispatch. Before moving to California, he covered Hurricane Michael, politics and education in Panama City, Florida. He can be reached by email at cbreaux@picketfencemedia.com.

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